Covid 19 Australia: NSW records 935 cases, Victoria reveals lockdown exit plan

New South Wales has recorded 935 new local cases of Covid-19 and four deaths.

There are currently 1207 cases admitted to hospital in NSW, with 236 people in intensive care, 123 of whom require ventilation.

Since the outbreak began in mid-June, there have been 47,058 locally acquired cases reported.

Of the eligible population in NSW, 52.6 per cent are fully vaccinated against the virus and 82.2 per cent have had their first dose.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said today that despite a drop in case numbers, October was still set to be the worst month for the state in terms of hospitalisations and deaths.

“Even if case numbers go down, we should expect, unfortunately, that the number of people in intensive care and the number of people who lose their lives to go up,” she said.

“People ordinarily get very sick in the second week of the illness and sometimes stay very sick for a long time. That is why we need to continue to brace ourselves for October being the worst month.”

NSW Ministry of Health’s Dr McAnulty said yesterday the local infection numbers were pleasing.

“It is very encouraging, the numbers [on Sunday] are fewer than the case numbers we had [recently],” he said.

“We don’t want to jump the gun [and] we would like to see several days before we can call it a ‘trend’ but certainly cases overall have … stabilised and appear to be dropping in some areas.”

The stabilisation of case numbers and increase in vaccination rates comes as lockdown restrictions are eased in 12 local government areas (LGAs) of concern across Greater Sydney.

From today, those LGAs saw the removal of time limits on exercise and recreation, outdoor gatherings permitted for up to five fully vaccinated people, and small weddings of up to 11 people allowed.

Victoria

Victoria has recorded 567 new local cases of Covid-19, taking the total number of cases in the outbreak to 5675. One Covid-related death was also recorded.

Of the eligible population, 43.9 per cent have now been fully vaccinated against the virus and 72 per cent have had their first dose.

Victoria’s much anticipated road map to freedom was unveiled yesterday, with the state’s sixth lockdown to end once 70 per cent of the eligible population receives both doses.

Premier Dan Andrews said that was likely to be around October 26, with those fully vaccinated to gain more freedoms than those who aren’t.

Once Victoria hits 80 per cent of people aged 16 and older fully vaccinated – predicted to be around November 5 – most of the remaining restrictions will be eased in line with density limits.

However, there are some rules Andrews said must remain in place even after 80 per cent of eligible Victorians are double vaxxed in order to “preserve our health system and ensure Victorians can still get the healthcare they need”.

The Premier said there was no alternative to the careful opening up plan and flagged the “acute stress” it would place on the health system if done too quickly.

“While we’re no longer aiming for Covid zero, it’s imperative we don’t jeopardise our health system as we open up – too many Victorians rely on it every day,” the Premier said.

At 80 per cent fully vaccinated, Victorians will still be required to wear masks indoors at all times, including at work.

Private gatherings at home will be permitted but limited to 10 people only, including children. This limit will increase to 30 visitors to the home for Christmas.

Public gatherings will be allowed for up to 30 fully vaccinated people, but only five for those who aren’t.

Only those who are fully vaccinated will be able to go to work, with Victorians still encouraged to work from home if they can.

The same applies for non-practical adult education with only those with two doses of the vaccine allowed on campus.

Those who aren’t vaccinated will also be unable to attend religious services indoors, and must practice their faith outdoors, in groups capped at 20.

Hospitality food and drink businesses, karaoke venues and nightclubs will only be able to operate seated service.

Food courts will remain closed with takeaway only allowed, and customers will not be allowed to remove their masks indoors to consume food or drinks.

Weddings and funerals will be capped at 150 people indoors and 500 outdoors for those where all guests are double jabbed, while unvaccinated funerals will be limited to 20 people and weddings 10.

Holidays will also have to occur in a “bubble”, where households nominate another to go on vacation with.

The road map announcement brings Victoria in line with NSW as the second Australian state to plan a significant relaxation of restrictions even as Covid continues to circulate in the community.

“Lockdowns have been about buying time to get to 70 and 80 per cent vaccination,” Andrews said.

“We are fast approaching those milestones. At that point we have got to open the place up, because remaining closed forever has its own cost, in every sense of that word.”

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